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Why are women living longer than men?

Jetta Tedesco (2022-04-18)


Everywhere in the world women live longer than men - but this was not always the case. The available data from rich countries shows that women didn't live longer than men in the 19th century. What's the reason women live longer than men? And why is this difference growing in the past? There isn't much evidence and we have only some solutions. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

In spite of the amount of weight, we are aware that a large portion of the reason women live longer than men today but not in the past, has to do with the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others are more complex. For example, there is evidence that in rich countries the female advantage increased in part because infectious diseases used to affect women disproportionately a century ago, so advances in medicine that reduced the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for survivors, ended up raising women's longevity disproportionately.

Everywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men
The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. It is clear that all countries are above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her younger brother.

10 months agoThis chart illustrates that, even though women enjoy an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences can be significant. In Russia women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan, زيوت تطويل الشعر the difference is only half a year.

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The advantage women had in terms of life expectancy was lower in the richer countries that it is today.
Let's examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The following chart shows the life expectancy of males and females when they were born in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men and women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small however, it has increased significantly during the last century.

You can confirm that the points you've listed are applicable to other countries with data by selecting the "Change country" option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.